Edward William Bok > The Americanization of Edward Bok > Page 174



Edward William Bok (1863–1930). The Americanization of Edward Bok. 1921.

Page 174

readers to writing to his editors upon all conceivable problems.

This he decided to encourage. He employed an expert in each line of feminine endeavor, upon the distinct understanding that the most scrupulous attention should be given to her correspondence: that every letter, no matter how inconsequential, should be answered quickly, fully, and courteously, with the questioner always encouraged to come again if any problem of whatever nature came to her. He told his editors that ignorance on any question was a misfortune, not a crime; and he wished their correspondence treated in the most courteous and helpful spirit.

Step by step, the editor built up this service behind the magazine until he had a staff of thirty-five editors on the monthly pay-roll; in each issue, he proclaimed the willingness of these editors to answer immediately any questions by mail, he encouraged and cajoled his readers to form the habit of looking upon his magazine as a great clearing-house of information. Before long, the letters streamed in by the tens of thousands during a year. The editor still encouraged, and the total ran into the hundreds of thousands, until during the last year, before the service was finally stopped by the Great War of 1917–18, the yearly correspondence totalled nearly a million letters.

The work of some of these editors never reached the printed page, and yet was vastly more important than any published matter could possibly be. Out of the work of Ruth Ashmore, for instance, there grew a class of cases of the most confidential nature. These cases,



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